NAVAIR: Sustaining readiness: – Artisan-Marine union returns aircraft faster to fleet


Collocating artisans with Marines at Marine Corps Air Station New River is not just working out, but perhaps yielding bigger and faster returns than what was expected.

Fleet Readiness Center East artisans and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26 Marines are maximizing the integrated maintenance concept, lessening pit stop times of aircraft and boosting Marine Corps readiness.

Some preliminary reports from managers and supervisors at New River is that turnaround time for V-22 maintenance has been dramatically reduced from 300 to 89 days, and the aircraft are being returned with no discrepancies to squadrons from the depot.

“The process has the potential of being lightning fast,” said Dave Oravecz, supervisor of H-1 and V-22 overhaul and repair at New River.

Perhaps a major advantage to the process is that the owning Marine squadrons send maintenance personnel along with the aircraft to work alongside the depot maintainers throughout the process.

“Were sending aircraft out to fleet Marine Corps ready to task,” said Oravecz, touting the New River model as “the best example of the fleet sustainment directive.”

He said, because the Marines maintainers are present, aircraft do not return with discrepancies such as “Noted, But Not Corrected.” “[The Marine] is executing it. While it’s here it’s getting done.”

Where depot-level mechanics are bound to specific administrative standards or are regulated to performing only specific tasks, accompanying Marines (and contractors) in this set up give unique opportunities throughout the process that accelerates overall progress.

Lavon Vance Jr., V-22 work leader, explained that aircraft in-process at the traditional depot is subject to the mandatory evaluation and estimation process. The process requires that each step of work be meticulously documented, tying into the cost accounting system for an aircraft. At depot, any work performed on an aircraft, regardless of scale, cannot be performed until the evaluation and estimation step is completed and a work order produced to authorize the repair.

At New River, work leaders leverage the presence of Marine maintainers to expedite this step to keep projects rolling toward completion.

“I can’t do it without working with the Marines. The Marines allow us to remove (administrative) steps that can become time intensive,” said Vance.

Vance added, that overall it is a coordinated process between, artisans, Marines and contractors, where work leaders determine the order of each repair. “The success of that coordination is vital,” said Vance. “It saves a lot of time and makes things simpler.”

While timely turnaround of aircraft is the central point of focus, the strategic move by Marine Corps leaders is yielding other fortuitous byproducts for squadrons and fleet readiness centers alike.

“It’s cool to see how these guys do things at the depot level,” said Cpl. Haiden Peters, 365 Blue Knights airframes mechanic. “It’s so much knowledge you never get to see in the fleet.”

Since being assigned with the artisans, Peters said he has learned a lot. He also mentioned that the experience has given him an opportunity to get better understanding on the necessity of carrying out squadron-level preventive maintenance inspections, specifically corrosion inspections.

“Corrosion damage ties directly into delay of aircraft,” he said, explaining that he now sees the effects of neglect and how getting it fixed at depot adds additional steps into the process.

He added that the experience is “invaluable.” “It’s a whole other look at what we do. It makes a difference seeing it with your own eyes,” said Peters.

“We get to show and teach the Marines things while they are here,” said B.J. Farrington, sheet metal mechanic, adding, that training mitigates risks and eliminates delays brought on from requiring technical engineering instructions. “And the more they know, the less we have to do to an aircraft when it’s at the depot.”

“This model exponentially increases the knowledge base,” said Oravecz, noting that a significant loss of Marines maintenance personnel happened during 2003-2013 as a result of things such as attrition and force reduction. “This goes toward rebuilding the base. We’re seeing interaction between Marines and artisans at a greater capacity, and they’re taking that knowledge back to the squadrons.

And in the process artisans are getting enlightened too.

Vance explained that many of the artisans at the FRC East MCAS Cherry Point location do not get the opportunity to see the impact of their work. “Here our guys see the end result every day. They see the struggle of the Marine maintainers,” he said, speaking briefly about demand brought on by squadron-level operations tempo.

According to Oravecz, the New River Detachment as of Jan. 21, 2016 has sold 11 H-1 aircraft at an average of five days ahead of schedule, and three V-22s at an average work in-process rate of 89-108 days — compared to the previous average of 300 days in depot.

“Our team is still striving to reduce the turnaround time further for our V-22 program,” he said.

Source / Author: NAVAIR